Cover image for From Cold War to hot peace : an American ambassador in Putin's Russia / Michael McFaul.
Title:
From Cold War to hot peace : an American ambassador in Putin's Russia / Michael McFaul.
ISBN:
9780544716247
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.
Physical Description:
xiii, 506 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents:
REVOLUTION -- The First Reset -- Democrats of the World, Unite! -- Yeltsin's Incomplete Revolution -- Putin's Thermidor -- RESET -- Change We Believe In -- Launching Obama's Reset -- Universal Values -- The First (and Last) Moscow Summit -- The New STARTTreaty -- Denying Iran the Bomb -- Hard Accounts: Russia's Neighborhood and Missile Defense -- Burgers & Spies -- The Arab Spring, Libya, and the Beginning of the End of the Reset -- "His Excellency" -- REACTION -- Putin Needs an Enemy: America, Obama, and Me -- Getting Physical -- Push Back -- Twitter and the Two-Step -- It Takes Two to Tango -- Chasing Russians, Failing Syrians -- Dueling on Human Rights -- Going Home -- Annexation and War in Ukraine -- The End of Resets (for Now) -- Epilogue: The Trump-Putin Bromance.
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Summary

Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the diplomat Putin wants to interrogate--and has banned from Russia--a revelatory, inside account of U.S.-Russia relations from 1989 to the present

"A fascinating and timely account of the current crisis in the relationship between Russia and the United States." -- New York Times Book Review

Putin would need an enemy, and he turned to the most reliable one in Russia's recent history: the United States and then, by extension, me.

In 2008, when Michael McFaul was asked to leave his perch at Stanford and join an unlikely presidential campaign, he had no idea that he would find himself at the beating heart of one of today's most contentious and consequential international relationships. As President Barack Obama's adviser on Russian affairs, McFaul helped craft the United States' policy known as "reset" that fostered new and unprecedented collaboration between the two countries. Andthen, as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, he had a front-row seat when this fleeting, hopeful moment crumbled with Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency. This riveting inside account combines history and memoir to tell the full story of U.S.-Russia relations from the fall of the Soviet Union to the new rise of the hostile, paranoid Russian president. From the first days of McFaul's ambassadorship, the Kremlin actively sought to discredit and undermine him,hassling him with tactics that included dispatching protesters to his front gates, slandering him on state media, and tightly surveilling him, his staff, and his family.

From Cold War to Hot Peace is an essential account of the most consequential global confrontation of our time.


Author Notes

Michael McFaul is Professor of Political Science, Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. He is also an analyst for NBC News. Dr. McFaul served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014). He has written several books, including From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia; Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; with Kathryn Stoner, Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective; with James Goldgeier, Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War; and Russia¿s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stanford political science professor McFaul, who was posted to Moscow as U.S. ambassador from 2012 to 2014, provides useful insights into the changing relationship between America and Russia in this smart, personable mix of memoir and political analysis. McFaul first traveled to the then Soviet Union in 1983 as an undergraduate, and his resulting longtime interest in Russia turned to active engagement in 2007, when he was asked to advise the Obama campaign, a role that morphed into a position as special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian affairs. His tenure in the White House and then in Moscow coincided with increased tensions with the Putin regime, which ultimately accused the U.S. of interference in its elections and declared McFaul persona non grata, despite his energetic outreach to the Russian people, which included unprecedented interactions for an American on social media. McFaul does not believe Putinism as it exists today was inevitable, pointing to George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq as a "devastating blow to bilateral relations" that might otherwise have continued their post-9/11 progress. The author's privileged perspective as both an academic and policy maker makes this an essential volume for those trying to understand one of the U.S.'s most significant current rivals. Agent: Tina Bennett, WME. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

IN MAY 2012, the American ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, accompanied a senior White House official to a meeting with Vladimir V. Putin at the then-president-elect's country estate. Midway through the discussion, Putin turned directly to McFaul and berated him for trying to ruin United States-Russia relations. In "From Cold War to Hot Peace," McFaul recalls wondering, "Why was one of the most powerful men on the planet so obsessed with an American diplomat?" McFaul answers his own question in these pages. For while this is the only personal confrontation between the two men that he recounts, the wider battle between their opposing visions of international affairs dominates the book. This memoir tells a political story that is also personal: the story of a man who watches as his own lifelong efforts to promote cooperation and integration between America and Russia are undone by Putin himself. McFaul cut his political teeth as a prodemocracy activist in Moscow during the final years of Soviet power before becoming a scholar of contemporary Russia at Stanford University. In 2008, he joined Barack Obama's presidential campaign and was later appointed senior director for Russian affairs at the National Security Council before serving as ambassador in Moscow from 2012 to 2014. McFaul combines both analytical and personal perspectives to offer a fascinating and timely account of the current crisis in the relationship between Russia and the United States. In the wake of Russia's 2008 war with Georgia, the Obama administration attempted to reboot relations with the Kremlin. McFaul was the author of what became known as the "Reset," and so his narrative pitches the reader deep into the flurry of briefing documents, negotiations, handshakes and treaties that were calculated to draw Russia closer to the orbit of Western agendas and values. He emphasizes that the personal chemistry between the two new presidents, Obama and Dmitri A. Medvedev, drove forward a range of policies, from nuclear disarmament to efforts to deny Iran the bomb, with tangible success. The dramatic pivot in McFaul's story comes in late 2011, when relations between Russia and the United States quickly soured. The primary cause was, McFaul maintains, Russian domestic politics. Putin's earlier terms as president had been underpinned by a social compact in which the Kremlin offered rising living standards in exchange for political support or at least acquiescence. By 2011 under Medvedev, as the fallout from the financial crisis hit Russia hard, that deal was beginning to unravel. In September, many educated Russians became indignant at the news of a "castling move," in which Medvedev and Putin announced they would swap positions of president and prime minister. Mass demonstrations against voter fraud in the December parliamentary elections thronged Russian cities and spooked the Kremlin. With the presidential vote looming in March 2012, Putin cast around for enemies at home and abroad to revalidate himself as defender of the Russian people. The newly minted American ambassador was the perfect fall guy for the Kremlin - manna from heaven for Putin's election effort, as one senior Russian official put it. Here was a diplomat with a long history of personally supporting democratic movements in Russia and the author, no less, of a book entitled "Russia's Unfinished Revolution." Only days after McFaul assumed his post in January 2012, the influential television host Mikhail Leontiev devoted his entire show to a hatchet job on McFaul, suggesting that the ambassador's real assignment was to overthrow the Russian government, to "finish the revolution." The Kremlin subjected McFaul and his embassy staff to harassment and vitriol that tore up the conventions of international diplomacy. Government mouthpieces in the press and on television assailed McFaul as "the color revolutions specialist sent by Obama to orchestrate regime change." A fake Twitter account purporting to belong to the ambassador tweeted out criticisms of the Russian elections; videos circulated on YouTtibe suggesting he was a pedophile; agents of the pro-Kremlin youth organization Nashi repeatedly ambushed McFaul in the street with accusations and innuendo; even his children were obtrusively tailed by the Russian security services. McFaul did his best to swim against this tide of official hostility. He took to Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to communicate directly with the Russian people, an unorthodox approach that enjoyed, he claims, some success, but ruffled feathers in Moscow. He hosted receptions, concerts and lectures designed to champion not just American culture but also wider respect for democratic values. Against the unfolding crackdown on the protest movement, many opposition leaders declined even to meet McFaul for fear of being demonized as puppets of the United States State Department. "Our tweets and jazz concerts were no match," McFaul acknowledges, for Putin's "media empire." If the Reset had been interrupted by Putin's re-election in 2012, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 buried it "for good." McFaul believed that this flagrant breach of international norms was proof that his own lifelong endeavor to promote democracy in Russia and secure integration with the West had emphatically failed. His personal tragedy was capped by the fact that he is now persona non grata in Russia, the first American ambassador to have been banned from the country since George Kennan in 1952. Putin is clearly the villain in this story. McFaul concluded that the Russian president was "paranoid," a man of "fixed and flawed views" who "saw us as the enemy," and that so long as he ruled Russia, "strategic partnership was impossible." He makes his case with energy and conviction. Yet his relentless focus on Putin's individual role tends to obscure the broader evolution of attitudes toward the West within the Russian political establishment. There are, for instance, only passing references to the siloviki - hard-liners with a background in the security services who were all along uneasy about Medvedev's embrace of the Reset. In fact, Putin is far from alone in his hostility to what he sees as aggressive NATO expansionism and the threat of American missile defense programs. Neither is he alone in his belief that the United States orchestrated the overthrow of the Ukrainian government of Viktor F. Yanukovych in 2014. And what of wider public opinion? McFaul concedes that Putin's popularity "suggests a deep societal demand for this kind of autocratic leader, and this kind of antagonistic relationship with the United States and the West." But instead of developing this insight, McFaul leaves it hanging. Placing responsibility for the rapid deterioration in United States-Russian relations squarely on the shoulders of the Russian president has its appeal. It holds out the promise that Kremlin policy toward the West might pivot once again when Putin finally retires or is pushed out. Maybe so, but the more pessimistic view is that Putin represents a now-entrenched revanchist nationalism that sees the liberal international order as a mere smokescreen for the advancement of Western political agendas. Deep-rooted antagonism toward the United States might well endure long after Putin has gone. As McFaul himself laments, "the hot peace, tragically but perhaps necessarily, seems here to stay." McFaul watches as his lifelong efforts to promote international cooperation come undone.


Library Journal Review

Former ambassador to the Russian Federation, McFaul (political science, Stanford) provides the reader with an overview of his experiences and thoughts on recent relations between the United States and Russia. McFaul's examination of Soviet and American internal and international politics is peppered with key events and personalities from Reagan and Gorbachev to Putin and Obama to the many realized and unrealized opportunities, such as Iran and Syria. The narration of L.J. Ganser is clear, and his well-employed skills make a dense read engaging. VERDICT While this work provides an interesting insider's view of Russian politics as well as a mix of scholarly framework and personal narrative, it comes off at times as a bit self-serving and biased. ["A fine narrative of the rise and decline of America's Russian policy in the Obama years": LJ 6/1/18 starred review of the Houghton Harcourt hc.]-Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.